The most active defendants in copyright lawsuits include department store chain Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST), which was named as a defendant in 276 cases. Following Ross Stores are a series of retailers: TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX), named a defendant in 123 cases; Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a defendant in 84 cases; Burlington Coat Factory (NYSE:BURL), a defendant in 74 cases; and Rainbow USA Inc., a defendant in 66 cases. Except for Amazon, these are primarily off-price department stores offering brand name goods at discounted prices. Music publishers like Universal Music Group, Inc. (65 suits) and education publishers like Pearson Education, Inc. (NYSE:PSO) (50 suits) are also among the top defendants in copyright cases.
How will libraries hold onto ebooks and other digital files like mp3s so that readers and scholars in the future can still read them? The current state of affairs relies on license agreements with publishers who in turn license to vendors, who in turn, license to libraries. Hardly sustainable when files can and do disappear when either the publisher or the vendor no longer offer them.
Libraries rely on the right of first sale to lend print books, and need an analogous right in the world of ebooks and digital music. To that end, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries and the Internet Archive filed a brief on Feb. 14, 2017 in support of Redigi, a company that sells used mp3 files to music customers. The brief argues that an evaluation of Fair Use should consider the rationale of the First Sale doctrine, and other specific exceptions. It argues that enabling the transfer of the right of possession should be favored under Fair Use.
The suit was brought by British engineering firm BladeRoom Group (BRG), which in 2015 alleged “BRG spent years developing and refining the prefabricated, modular design and the transportation and construction techniques that Facebook blithely passed off to the world in 2014,” the company said in its federal lawsuit. The company said that Facebook “simply stole the BRG Methodology and passed it off as its own.” BladeRoom notes that Facebook shared some of the ideas for the Swedish data center on the Open Compute Project blog and did not “make any attempt to attribute or credit BRG for any of the elements of the innovative new approach” that Facebook “claimed” it had developed.
BRG says it holds the intellectual property rights and trade secrets to what it termed are “mission-critical modular buildings with complex mechanical and electrical components.” Those buildings, according to the company, include industrial kitchens, hospitals, theaters, clean rooms, and data centers.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled yesterday that the lawsuit filed by Kali Kanongataa must be thrown out, after the American Broadcasting Company and other defendants filed motions arguing that their use of the clips was covered by “fair use.”
Kaplan’s reasoning wasn’t included in his written order. Minutes from yesterday’s court hearing aren’t yet available. But ABC’s argument in favor of fair use is on the public record, and Kaplan presumably accepted some or all of that argument.
But Oracle isn’t backing down. Late Friday, the company appealed the high-profile verdict to a federal appeals court.
This is the latest stage of a seemingly never-ending legal battle over intellectual property that began in 2010. The conflict has meandered through two federal trials, in addition to multiple trips to the appellate courts and to the Supreme Court.